Groat promotes to colonel, succeeds Armstrong as 176th Operations Group commander

  • Published
  • By David Bedard
  • 176th Wing Public Affairs

Alaska Air National Guard Lt. Col. Jeremy Groat promoted to colonel and succeeded Col. Joshua Armstrong as 176th Operations Group commander during an April 16 combined ceremony at JBER.

The 176th Operations Group of the 176th Wing, comprises the 144th Airlift Squadron, 176th Air Defense Squadron, 176th Operations Support Group, 210th Rescue Squadron, 211th Rescue Squadron, 212th Rescue Squadron.

Armstrong outlined the scope of the group’s missions.

“Most Air National Guard ops groups have a single mission set: tankers, cyber, etcetera,” he said. “This one has three federal, no-fail, 365-day missions all at once: air defense, the [combat search and rescue] units with the [Alaskan NORAD Region Operation Noble Eagle] alert, and strategic airlift. The wing mission statement is Defend, Lift, Save and Serve. This group does this every day of the year without blinking.”

Armstrong said, during his time as commander from July 2022 to April 2024, the 176th ADS controlled 580,000 square miles of airspace, detecting Chinese reconnaissance balloons and conducting 125 practice fighter scrambles, 397 ground-control intercepts, eight long-range aviation intercepts, four temporary flight restrictions and six Operation Noble Eagle intercepts.

Guardsmen of the 144th Airlift Squadron, with Total Force partners of the 517th Airlift Squadron, 3rd Wing, flew more than 5,500 hours moving more than 6,000 personnel and 15 million pounds of cargo. The squadron operated at the forefront of the Air Mobility Command commander’s initiatives by becoming the Air National Guard’s leading forward arming and refueling point unit, a capability critical for the Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment doctrine designed to take on peer threats. The squadron supported Operation Allies Refuge, evacuating hundreds of U.S. and Afghan personnel.

The Rescue Triad of 210th, 211th, and 212th Rescue Squadrons completed four deployments in support of Africa Command and Central Command (Middle East and North Africa). In Alaska, the Triad completed 157 search and rescue missions, flew 343 rescue sorties, and saved 134 lives.

Armstrong summed up his feelings at leaving command.

“It has been my greatest honor to serve as your commander,” Armstrong said. “The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle said, ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.’ Ops Group, you are habitually excellent, and thus you are truly uncommon.”

Having successfully completed his command tour, Armstrong heralded the capabilities of his successor.

“Jeremy Groat is one of the most intelligent leaders I’ve seen in my career,” he said. “As my deputy, his brain was usually well ahead of mine, and his ability to fill in for my own blind spots was impressive. I have all the confidence in the world that the group is in great hands.”

Groat began his military career in 1996 with the regular Air Force as an F-15 Eagle aircraft armament systems specialist with 3rd Wing. He joined the California Air National Guard in 2001 for a short stint before transferring to the 210th RQS as an HH-60G Pave Hawk aerial gunner, finally gaining selection as a Pave Hawk pilot. He served as the 210th RQS commander before his most recent assignment as the 176th OG director of operations. He is married to Chief Master Sgt. Kim Groat, Alaska Air National Guard command chief.

Groat said he anticipates the challenge of continuing to prepare 176th OG for great power competition, quoting Maj. Gen. Keith McDonald, Air National Guard Readiness Center commander.

“We are entering a period of unparalleled change in our nation’s Air Force,” Groat said. “Gen. Keith McDonald recently said, ‘The next five years are likely to be the most dynamic in the history of the Air Force.’ This evolving environment demands innovation, agility and foresight.

“There will be many unknowns on the horizon in this time of change, and the unknown can be a scary environment,” Groat continued. “As we transition from a force streamlined for efficiencies to a force purpose-built as units of action we must ensure our force presentation aligns with the future operating concept. We must follow through, as [Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Allvin] says, adapting our organizational structure for great power competition. Our responsibility is to adjust and to evolve ensuring that we remain on the cutting edge of military readiness and capability while creating dilemmas for our adversaries, so they wake up thinking, ‘Not today.’”

Groat expressed his vision for his command tour, building on the accomplishments of the group under Armstrong’s leadership.

“Moving forward, we will continue to build on the solid foundation and lines of effort laid out by my predecessor: mission, developing Airmen and espirit de corps,” Groat said. “We will strive for excellence and continue to innovate across all areas and missions: rescue, airlift and air defense.”